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August 20, 2014

Bringing Shalom

“Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.” –Robert Heinlein, American writer

Whenever I travel, I am made painfully aware of how petty and small we Americans can be.

We expect everyone else to make way for us, to do what we say when we say it, and we must never, EVER be inconvenienced. If we are inconvenienced, we feel free to ladle on the whiny gripes and, if prolonged beyond our prescribed endurance limit, we then toss out the threats. Our mantra seems to be, “Someone’s gonna pay for this!” We are the coddled, the spoiled, the what’s-in-it-for-me inhabitants of the planet. Granted, we do not have the market cornered on arrogance, but I have seen some stellar examples of Americans behaving badly and have tried with all of my might to convey that we are not all that way.   Some of us have manners. Some of us know how to ask nicely and then express gratitude. Some of us can see beyond our own little immediate list of desires to comprehend that the world is peopled with others, some whose needs trump ours all day long!

So the world tends to be populated by the opposing factions – the grabbers and the givers.

I have a dream that one day, there will be enough for every child to be fed and healthy and whole, that there will be shelter for every head laid to rest at night. I dream that there will be peace that resides in the hearts of neighbors and no one looks to injure another. I have a dream that instead of tooth-grinding and veiled threats regarding someone with a different view, we will respect those different perspectives and try to understand and show love to those with whom we disagree. I have a dream that evil will be restrained so that it can no longer hurt or destroy, and kindness and caring will flourish. I have a dream.

The only place that I can hope to see that dream come to life is within my own heart and life. So today, I am planting the seeds of kindness. I am ripping out the petty and small and pledge to be diligent to eradicate each little bud of selfishness that raises its insistent head. In so doing, I pray that I will make my own little plot of earth a garden where the sweet fruit of God’s presence grows: Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.

In Israel they speak “Shalom” to one another. This blessing means more than peace; it is satisfied wholeness and contented existence, understanding our place in the world and knowing we are occupying it with grace and humility before God. Instead of the silly and ridiculous things that we allow to get under our skin, may we be seekers of Shalom as well.

Galatians 5:22-24, The Message (MSG): “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good – crucified.”

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